Master Sommelier/Master of Wine
Kansas City, Missouri, North America
Spotlight No. 13
You might wonder what makes a guy pursue two of the hardest, most prestigious wine certifications in the world. In fact of very few people have had the fortitude and acumen to do so. Doug Frost is one of them, but he emphatically believes he can teach anyone how to pass the tests. I have seen the movie Somm and I doubt it. However, Doug is on the board of the Court of Master Sommeliers and one of the people who actually gives those tests, so he must know something about it.
I asked Doug the usual question: What was the first wine that opened your eyes to wine? For him it was a 1968 Louis Martini Special Selection Pinot Noir when he was 15. He was having dinner with his family at his uncle’s house, and his uncle sent him down to the cellar to pick a bottle of wine. His uncle had explained the difference between Pinot Noir and Cabernet, and Pinot Noir sounded good to him, so he grabbed the bottle with the red-foiled neck. Doug had never even tasted wine before, but he remembers that “it was fruity and silky; it was kind of dry and sweet at the same time.” He never imagined anything could taste that way.
His next memory of wine was Blue Nun when he was 19. He was on a date with a young woman named Lynette (he remembers everything!) and thought that the fancy blue bottle would impress her so much that he might get lucky. (I forgot to ask if it worked.) But the real catalyst on his path to wine occurred when he was 22 and took a job at a restaurant in Kansas City. He attended weekly tastings, listening to the stories, imagining the places the wines came from, integrating the words with the wines until the stories became his own. He had a gift for absorbing knowledge about wine and an even greater gift for sharing what he knew. He decided to study for the Master Sommelier certification, which takes three years, but found out he was actually studying for the Master of Wine certification, which takes five. He decided he might as well proceed with both. But he could not be more humble. He truly loves wine and all the elements of nature, culture and history that it represents. And the stories easily flow out of him.
I asked Doug if he thinks wine called him. This is not his sense of his relationship with wine. But he does believe in the aliveness of wine and experiences a communication with what is in his glass. He does not expect every wine to take him on a journey, but when one does, he says, “it makes you a better person because you remember that you are just another creature in the ecosystem, lucky to be alive and able to commingle with nature in this intimate way.” And true to his certification and his role in the service industry, he adds, “If we listen and allow ourselves to be inspired by nature and the stories found in wine, we get to share those stories with others too.”
Doug Frost believes enjoying wine is simple: 1) Be conscious, 2) realize that no one’s palate is better than yours, 3) go with what your taste tells you and 4) always learn more about the wines you like. As for what his last gulp of wine would be before entering the Pearly Gates: It would probably be that 1968 Louis Martini Pinot Noir, a bookend to a great life in service to nature and the world of wine.